Strange Tyre Advice From Michelin

Friday, 2. June 2017

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

Now here’s some strange advice I thought I would never be sharing. Michelin has urged drivers not to change their tyres too early. The reason, because changing tyres early is not good for the environment and costs individuals and companies money.

 

Research that was carried out by Michelin found that if tyres were changed with 3mm of tread remaining instead of the legal limit of 1.6mm would cost drivers in the EU an extra £6.9 billion per annum in extra tyre purchases and extra fuel consumption through increased friction on the road surface.

 

So there you have it, you should wait till your tyres are just about on their limit before changing them. By Graham Hill

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Up To Date Information On The Use & Fitting Of Baby Seats

Thursday, 1. June 2017

It’s been a while since I mentioned baby and child seats. As designs and rules have moved on since I last talked about them I thought it would be a good idea to bring things up to date. High street store suppliers now make sure that they send staff on IOSH courses to qualify them to discuss requirements with customers. Mothercare sends out mystery shoppers to assess the quality of advice given by staff.

 

Seat manufacturer Britax provide training for retailers to enable them to fit car seats properly. The most frequent problem is that parents move the child up to a larger seat too soon. This was a major finding by What Car in which 36% of children were found to be too small for the seat whilst a very small number were still in seats that were too small for them. What Car has listed 10 checks that you should carry out to protect your youngster as follows:

 

Is your child too small or large for the seat? If in doubt seek advice of an expert.

 

If the seat is secured by the car’s seatbelt make sure that it isn’t twisted and that it is fitted tightly enough around the child seat. It should be tight enough not to move if you push it.

 

When moving from wearing thick winter clothes to thinner summer clothes make sure you adjust the harness so that it isn’t too loose. Pinch the harness in front of the child’s collarbone and if you can pinch a lot of fabric between your fingers the belt is too loose.

 

If you’ve adjusted the seat’s headrest because your child has grown ensure the harness has been correctly routed back into place.

 

If using a travel system seat with a carry handle, don’t forget to put it back to the correct position after putting your child in the seat.

 

If using an Isofix seat, check that it is correctly clipped in. Indicators will change from red to green on the seat when fitted correctly.

 

If using a seat with a leg support check that the leg is fitted firmly to the car’s floor, that it’s at a 90 degree angle to the floor and that it’s not resting on an underfloor storage department unless this has been filled with a car manufacturer approved filler.

 

If using a seat with a top tether, ensure that it is routed over the back of the seat and clipped into the correct mounting point, not a luggage hook.

 

Don’t secure a high back booster with the car’s head rest: this needs to be moved out of the way so the child seat sits flush with the car seatback.

 

If you’re using a seat that is suitable for a wide age range, check it regularly for wear and tear; don’t just assume that it will stay safe for many years.

One final piece of research showed that babies should be kept as flat as possible as long as possible so avoid long journeys during which the baby is angled at 45 degrees. If it is necessary make frequent stops and lay them flat as often as possible.

By Graham Hill

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Having An Early MOT Test Could Lead To A £2,500 Fine

Friday, 26. May 2017

Some people think that having an MOT test proves that a car is in good condition and without faults. This of course isn’t true so if you are buying a used car you should have a full inspection carried out on the car rather than just an MOT. Also if you have an MOT coming up and you want to know the likely ‘damage’ you should ask for a pre-MOT check rather than having an actual MOT carried out.

 

The reason for mentioning this is that if you have a car MOT tested and it fails this is recorded on the DVSA register as a failure. Scrapcarcomparison.co.uk has warned that some drivers have had their cars MOT tested long before the MOT is due, failed the test but believed that it is still OK to drive the car till the old MOT has run out. This isn’t true and not only is it dangerous it is also illegal.

 

Driving a car that isn’t roadworthy is not only dangerous and illegal it can also invalidate your insurance and if the police pick it up via their ANPR cameras it can lead to a fine of £2,500, a driving ban as well as 3 points on the licence. Last year 36.8% of cars failed their MOT tests on the first attempt with over 2.4 million cars requiring fixes before passing. So remember, if your car fails an MOT test at any time you can only continue to drive the car if it is on the way to be repaired (proof required) or to a pre-arranged MOT test appointment. By Graham Hill

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Self Repairing Roads To Combat Potholes

Friday, 26. May 2017

According to the RAC pothole related breakdowns were up by 63% over the last year. Between January and March this year breakdown patrols helped 6,500 drivers who were in trouble due to poor road conditions. The problems ranged from punctures and broken suspension through to distorted wheels.

 

So I was interested to read that researchers at Delft University in the Netherlands may have the answer. They have come up with a self-repairing Asphalt. Normal Asphalt is made to be porous in order to reduce road noise, but the pores allow cracks to build up and eventually turn into a potholes. In order to overcome this the clever people at Delft have come up with the idea of mixing in steel wool into the asphalt.

 

The steel wool makes the mix conductive to electricity. So if a crack appears a magnetic induction machine is rolled over the surface to heat the mixture that will close the cracks before they become potholes. This system has been under test since 2010 on 12 Dutch roads with none of them requiring any more repairs. The Asphalt mix costs around 25% more but they say the new mix could double the life cycle of roads saving money in the long run.

 

Personally I have yet to be convinced as firstly they have to identify the cracked roads very early on, then they need to tow to the site a special induction machine on wheels that then sends a current through the wool to heat up the Asphalt. And once a pothole appears you are back to a man with a shovel and a heavy boot to repair it. Let’s face it if we had the ‘crack warning’ early enough and the resources we could dispatch the man with his shovel to fix it just as quick and more cheaply. But what do I know? By Graham Hill

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Do You Know If You Have A Spare Wheel In Your Boot?

Thursday, 13. April 2017

If you have taken delivery of a new car recently have you checked the spare tyre situation? Many people are still driving around in the belief that they have a full sized spare sitting in the boot but if you lift the carpet mat you may be shocked to find that you only have a skinny spare, about the width of a pound coin or worse, as manufacturers try to save another gram of CO2, a can of spray tyre inflator and rubber weld in the hole that once contained a spare wheel.

Even worse if you have a BMW because you may open the boot carpet to reveal – nothing! No skinny wheel or can of tyre repair gunk. Just – nothing! Because most BMW’s are now fitted with run flat tyres, which is good because if you get a puncture the tyre will feel spongy and an alert will tell you that there has been a sudden drop in tyre pressure but you can keep going for a further 50 miles at 50 miles per hour.

The bad news is that whilst there are repair kits available to the trade few tyre repairers are happy to carry out a repair as it can be difficult to assess the ancillary damage caused to the structure of the tyre by driving it without air. So generally speaking you are into the cost of a new tyre following a puncture with the additional pain that run flats are more expensive than a normal tyre.

Incidentally, I have had clients call following the delivery of a car with a repair kit in the boot in place of a spare wheel believing this to be illegal. It isn’t. In order to reduce weight, CO2 output and fuel consumption many manufacturers are turning to the spray can so if you’re not sure check it out.

And with the RAC advising that punctures are the most common call out alongside engines that won’t start it might be wise to check the boot. You will at least be prepared and if you prefer at least a skinny spare you can normally get one from a dealer as an after fit. By Graham Hill

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Huge Increase In Detection Of Mobile Telephone Use Whilst Driving

Friday, 10. February 2017

In an earlier blog I talked about speeding and the crackdown on those considered to be a serious speeder with the imposition of increased fines. Well not only are we seeing a crackdown on speeding offences but also distractions, in particular mobile phones.

 

In an exercise that involved 36 police forces last November they stopped 10,012 cars and detected 8,000 mobile phone offences. 7,800 fixed penalty notices were issued along with several  hundred verbal warnings and 68 court summons. In an earlier campaign in May 2016, 2,418 cars were stopped with 2,323 mobile phone offences detected.

 

When asked about the increase the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) explained that 6 more forces took part in the November campaign with more resources being dedicated to carrying out the roadside operation, especially by the Metropolitan Police. A further week long campaign was started in January 2017 the results of which are as yet unknown.

 

The exercise is a difficult one for the police as it is difficult for officers to differentiate between someone using a mobile rather than scratching an ear or nose or just raising a hand. But even so they managed to detect a frighteningly large number of offenders, many of whom weren’t aware of the increased fine and points as of 1st March 2017 (£200 spot fine and 6 points).

 

The NPCC said that outside these purges they are managing to detect more offenders as a result of new tactics and innovation employed, along with intelligence provided by the public, with particular success in catching repeat offenders. It would seem that this is something that the police will be doing on a regular basis following demands made by the public.

 

Whilst other distractions were detected such as eating crisps and chocolate and drinking from a bottle whilst driving they only amounted to 1.4% of the sample. So the police will continue to concentrate on mobile phone users whilst driving. You have been warned. By Graham Hill

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Could We Be Seeing The End To Speed Bumps?

Friday, 10. February 2017

Let me ask you a question, what irritates you most? Pot holes, speed bumps or 20mph speed limits? For me there is little to choose but each of them has an affect on the way we drive with two meant to make roads safer and the other one simply slowing us down as we don’t particularly want to destroy our tyres and suspension.

 

Whilst you try to work out the one that destroys tyres I can tell you that speed bumps could be a thing of the past (hurrah and hurrah), to possibly be replaced by the wide use of 20 mph speed limits (damn, damn, damn). A report out at the end of last year by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) – yes I thought they only approved drugs also – suggests that local authorities do away with speed bumps as they lead to erratic driving which increases pollution.

 

As a replacement they have suggested variable speed limits and ‘no idling zones’. Statistically 64% of air pollution in urban areas is caused by road traffic costing the UK £18.6 billion each year. I wish they would explain that figure, I guess as it’s NICE they mean in consequential health issues but how do they prove that it’s not down to the sufferer’s lifestyle or place of work?

 

Anyway, moving on, they want to stop idling in certain areas but this has also caused me concern. You know the old strip lights that are still used in open areas, offices, kitchens etc.? Well I remember reading somewhere that if you turned one of these lights off then switched it back on a little later the starter used up more electricity than if you had left the light on for over 2 hours (can’t remember the exact time), so my point here is could the same principal apply to stop start engines that are meant to reduce pollutants into the atmosphere?

 

Could constantly starting the engine kick out more CO2’s and other noxious gasses into the atmosphere than simply leaving the engine ticking over? Just a thought – but a very good one Graham I hear you say. I digress. They suggest that 20mph limits be introduced in areas of regular congestion and drop motorway speed limits to 50mph in order to create steady traffic flow.

 

They recommend the wider introduction of congestion charging and laws to prevent parents from leaving cars idling whilst delivering children to school. I’d have thought a gentle tip off in the local hooligans’ shell likes should solve that one! Other rather entertaining proposals suggest new houses with living rooms at the back of the house, furthest away from roads (umm what about bedrooms?), car free days for some areas and siting cycle lanes away from main roads.

 

I’m all for saving the planet but do these people really think these things through? To avoid congestion in the centre of town during the rush hour won’t be solved by introducing a 20mph speed limit when you are lucky to achieve 3 mph on a good day. Still removing road humps will be a good start as far as I, and most Ferrari divers, are concerned. By Graham Hill

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Calls To Disclose Active Medical Conditions Could Save Lives

Friday, 10. February 2017

Failing to disclose an active medical condition can not only result in a serious accident but also a prison sentence. This happened recently when a woman fell asleep at the wheel as a result of suffering from obstructive sleep apnoea, a condition that isn’t uncommon.

 

Having fallen asleep her car crossed to the other side of the road and hit an oncoming car head on causing the death of the other driver. After pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and the court finding out that she had been diagnosed the condition 2 years earlier she was clearly heading for prison.

 

As soon as she had been diagnosed with the condition that could affect her driving she should have immediately informed the DVLA but of course this has raised the issue of when should the DVLA be advised and by whom. Whilst there may be a list of conditions that you must report if you have them I certainly don’t know them other than eyesight.

 

So should it be the responsibility of the GP already under pressure to treat lots of sick people in his waiting room? And even if a driver is diagnosed with a condition that should result in immediate confiscation of their driving licence there is an obvious incentive not to advise the DVLA knowing that they would have to submit their licence.

 

But the risks to their lives, the lives of passengers and other road users are too great to ignore this situation. The current procedures are a mess. Once a driver has been diagnosed with or believes they have a condition that could prevent them from driving they must apply for an independent assessment from a doctor in order to obtain the doctor’s approval.

 

But the DVLA doesn’t require evidence of this and the driver is allowed to continue driving pending the assessment. Road safety charity Brake have been assessing some of the safety issues and have so far come up with a recommendation for drivers to have an eye test before taking their driving test and a minimum of every 10 years thereafter.

 

It’s a start but far too weak in my opinion. In the meantime, having been the victim of a driver falling asleep in a car approaching and drifting across the road in front of me, I can tell you that it’s a scary experience. I mounted a dirt bank and avoided an accident with miraculously not even any damage to my car, but it could all have ended much much worse!

 

Be vigilant, you never know when you will need to take avoiding action. And if you are suffering a dangerous condition get checked out, it could save several lives. By Graham Hill

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Major Increases In Speeding Fines From April Revealed

Friday, 10. February 2017

Under new laws that come into force from 24th April 2017 most serious speeding offenders will be fined 50% more. The Sentencing Council has issued new guidelines to be implemented in all magistrates’ courts in England and Wales.

 

At the moment the most serious speeding offenders face fines that have a starting point of 100% of their weekly salary, this will go up to 150% of weekly salary (no I didn’t either). The upper limit doesn’t change though which clearly favours the better off amongst us.

 

The upper limit remains at £1,000 or £2,500 for those caught on a motorway. Again, in my opinion, arse about face. Speeding in a built up area should carry a bigger fine than on a motorway. As 10 times more people die on country roads (60% of total) it doesn’t make sense to penalise motorway speeders more than non motorway speeders.

 

A speeding offence is considered to be serious if you are caught driving at 51 miles per hour in a 30mph zone, 66mph in a 40mph zone,  or 101mph on a motorway etc. Some experts are calling for 3 month bans applied to those driving at speeds that drop them into the serious speeding zone.

 

I believe that would have a greater affect on those who speed but is it the answer – I really don’t know. For information the average fine in 2015 was just £188 with 166,695 offenders being sentenced. By Graham Hill

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Misunderstandings about MOT Tests & New Changes

Friday, 10. February 2017

MOT tests do not prove that a car has no faults. On many occasions I have written about this issue and explained how buyers have been handed a brand new MOT certificate with their used car as proof that the car is faultless. Most safety items are checked along with emissions but it won’t reveal that a car has an oil leak or any other mechanical fault unless it falls within the scope of the test.

 

A full mechanical check on the car should confirm if the car has a faulty gearbox or engine or any other potentially expensive faults. Having said that the scope of the MOT test is extending annually to include new technology which also means that examiners are expected to take an annual, online, test. However, it has been revealed that just 35% of MOT testers have taken their test with just up to the end of March to pass.

 

Following which the testers will put their licence in jeopardy. The question is does this put drivers at risk if the MOT tester isn’t up to speed with the latest requirements? The Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA) thinks not as they have announced that the examiners will be treated leniently this year, as this is the first year of change and the online examinations, but a tougher approach will be taken in future if examiners don’t conform to the new rules. Concerns have been raised regarding driverless cars.

 

Development in this sector is gaining traction but concerns have been expressed by various bodies regarding the preparation, or rather the lack of it, when it comes to the safety testing and MOT test criteria in relation to autonomous cars fitted with extra sensors and complex electronics. The Department for Transport simply says that work in this area is ‘under review’. Finally on the subject of MOT testing the Department for Transport has finally launched its proposals to extend the first MOT test from 3 years to 4 years.

 

The consultation paper recommends that the initial MOT test for cars and motorcycles be extended to 4 years from 2018 saving motorists more than £100 million annually. Transport Minister Andrew Jones (no I haven’t heard of him either) suggested that our roads are some of the safest in the world and vehicles are much safer than they were 50 years ago when the MOT test was set at 3 years.

 

Personally I would suggest that we need to see how many cars fail their first MOT at 3 years before deciding if we can extend to 4 years. Strange that wasn’t mentioned. By Graham Hill

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